With the 9th annual Cap2Cap bike ride set for this Saturday (May 10), I thought it would be a good time to catch up with Virginia Capital Trail Foundation Executive Director Beth Weisbrod on the progress of the trail, especially the Richmond section.
Much of what’s left to be built in Richmond — from Great Shiplock Park at the western end to Rocketts Landing and then the Richmond/Henrico line on the eastern side — will take the place of abandoned rail line. But before reaching that old rail line at Dock and Ash streets, the trail will have to go around the much discussed, disputed and dissected USP property. That’s the piece of land immediately east of Great Shiplock Park.
Weisbrod said that when the finished 55-mile trail opens next summer (fingers crossed), the section that goes around the USP property (formerly known as Echo Harbour), will be on Dock Street — at least temporarily, the only part of the trail’s entire length that won’t be on a separate, dedicated path.
“It’s about 800 feet where it will go straight along Dock Street,” Weisbrod said. “I’m hoping they put Jersey barriers, but I’m not exactly sure. Those are concrete. It’s safe.”
That piece was supposed to be completed in June, but, Weisbrod said, City Council had to approve an easement deal between the city and the USP property developer for the temporary alignment. “That should push things back about 60 days. So we’re looking at August or September for it to be done.”
From there the trail jogs down toward the river on Ash Street and picks up the old railroad bed, first along the soon-to-be-city-owned Lehigh Cement silos and then past the city-owned Intermediate Terminal.
“There’s been a little procedural holdup on that and that’s looking like September or October,” Weisbrod said of that section.
Over the winter there were some pictures on Facebook of rail lines being pulled up near Rocketts Landing in preparation for the trail. The next section goes past Rocketts, then past Vulcan Materials, where the rail heads away from river. There the trail will reach the Henrico line and run along Route 5/Osbourne Turnpike. That section has been delayed as well, but Weisbrod said it, too, is on schedule for completion by next summer.
It’s an exciting time for everyone who’s followed the progress of the trail over the past decade. The delays are maddening, but the finish line is in sight. With the World Road Cycling Championships (an the hundreds of thousands of visitors) coming here in September of 2015, there’s no way the city would drop the ball on this, would it?